A Malaysian government minister has said that LGBT+ people need to be helped to return to their “original identities” through education, and claimed that allowing people to be transgender would cause chaos in society.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Mahfuz Omar, claimed that “a person needs to realise their original birth [gender].”
“If they were originally men, then they need to return to being men, and the opposite as well,” he said, according to the New Straits Times.
He also called on people not to push LGBT+ Malaysians to the fringes, and claimed that his department has no record of discrimination against the country’s LGBT+ community.
The minister made the claims in response to fellow government minister, Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s plea with the public not to discriminate against LGBT+ people.
However, Mujahid was the source of international attention last week when he ordered two portraits of LGBT+ Malaysian activists to be removed from an exhibition.
Speaking about the removal of their portraits, he said: “Society cannot accept LGBT being promoted because that is against norms, culture and religion.”
Following the controversy, Mujahid met with transgender activist, Nisha Ayub. Nisha’s portrait was one of those originally included in the exhibition. They reportedly discussed issues facing the community “pertaining to religion, specifically worship.”
However, he said that his meeting with Nisha did not mean he agreed with what LGBT+ activists were fighting for, and specifically noted that they did not discuss equal marriage “at all.”
Homosexuality is currently illegal in Malaysia, and the country has seen further moves against the LGBT+ community in recent years.
Transgender people in the country can face arbitrary arrest, physical and sexual assault, imprisonment, denial of healthcare and employment, as well as other abuses.
There is also a legal ban on cross-dressing in Malaysia. A challenge to the law was brought to Malaysia’s highest court in 2015, however it was defeated.